Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bills quick to point out Patriots' 4-3 D front

The New England Patriots’ defensive depth chart has them listed as a 3-4.

Don’t tell that to the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills expect four-man defensive fronts when the Patriots visit Ralph Wilson Stadium Sunday for a divisional bout between two of the three AFC East teams with 2-0 records.

“They’re a four-man front now,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said during his Wednesday press conference. “They line up in 3-4 spacing from time to time, but they’re really a four-man front now.”

New England has two beastly defensive linemen who can play on the interior in nose tackle Vince Wilfork and Albert Haynesworth, who is listed as a defensive end on the Patriots’ depth chart.

Even when Wilfork is lined up at nose and only three linemen, including Haynesworth, are in a down stance, the Patriots will have a fourth defensive-end/linebacker-type up at the line of scrimmage. When that fourth guy is next to Haynesworth, he’s basically a 4-3 defensive end playing outside Wilfork and Haynesworth, who are acting as interior 4-3 linemen. Sometimes he’ll blitz, and sometimes he’ll drop in coverage. But it’s certainly a 4-3 look.

“They’re a 4-3,” Bills running back Fred Jackson told reporters when asked how the Patriots’ defense looks this year. “I think that’s the number one thing. They have been a 3-4 defense. They’ve got the two big guys in the middle and we’re looking forward to it.”

Shaun Ellis is listed as the team’s second left defensive end behind Haynesworth (even though he’s often next to Haynesworth), and Mike Wright is slated as the team’s starting right defensive end.

“They’re big and strong inside,” Gailey said. “They’ve got some good edge pass rush. They’ve made the change and it was an easy change for them to make.

“Many people play open sets now. You had to go more four-man front or nickel situations, so they said, ‘Why not teach that all the time rather than just in nickel situations?’”

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